I call this painting “Teenage Angst.”
I posted it on my Facebook wall the other day and received comments and emails to the likes of “That was so me in high school,” and “Wow, I dated that girl,” and “That’s a spitting image of my own teenager…”
Everyone knows Teenage Angst – many of us carry it right into adulthood.
However, as we become older and wiser, we have opportunities to become more skilled in learning how to navigate angst. Ultimately, the best way to work with it, is to stay with it.
Learning how “be” with our pain is essential to compassionate awakening. But it’s a case of the hardest thing being the best thing.
Our instinct is to run—to be anywhere but here—but “here” is where truth and freedom live.
Pema says it best:
“To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path.” ~ Pema Chodron
Learning to stay with emotion is tricky business. But with practice, it gets easier.
I’ve kind of had it “up to here” with spiritual materialism: people spending $200.00 on yoga outfits, the abundance of self-proclaimed gurus taking ancient Eastern spiritual principles and repackaging them into fragmented Cole’s notes versions, and films that suggest if we simply repeat our daily affirmations we’ll attract the perfect partner and a high paying job. And if it doesn’t attract them, we must be doing it wrong. Suddenly, personal growth is all about outcome. Everybody’s jumping on the spiritual bandwagon. But hey, it’s hip. It’s cool. It’s fun. Let’s all chant, “Namaste,” together!
I don’t know . . . Personally, my spiritual path hasn’t always been so hip, cool and fun. It has often felt beautiful, but along that path there has also been pain. When I was in my early 20s being spiritual wasn’t hip at all. I spent my evenings hanging out with people 30 years older than I was in Buddhist and meditation classes. I remember feeling isolated, with my mind full of questions, wanting to share my path so desperately. I felt such frustration that everyone my own age was hanging out in bars getting wasted instead of wanting to discuss concepts such as impermanence and emptiness. It was a lonely time. Even now, I consider myself a happy person, but my current path is by no means a simple one.